Study and reference materials, introductory information, and academic articles

Virtue Cards At Renton School Raise Concerns About Religion

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Tuesday, November 15, 1994

RENTON - Modesty, courtesy, kindness, forgiveness. These are words more often found in old-fashioned primers or Sunday-school lessons than in modern public-school classrooms.

Yet, there they are, along with 47 others like them, printed in neat, alphabetical rows on posters adorning the walls at Renton Alternative High School.

Idealism, responsibility, peacefulness, steadfastness, love. The words are being discussed by teachers and students at the high school this year because of a new program called the 52 Virtues. It is an effort to introduce students to moral values shared by religions and humanists - "values that everybody holds," Principal Jack Rogers said.

Most teachers say they have taken a low-key approach, using the virtues as vocabulary words, and having students identify virtues in people they know or admire. "One kid said, `What's courtesy?' " said science teacher Steve Gerkey. "You can't practice it if you don't know what it is."

{josquote}This is something we never intended to be used in classrooms.{/josquote}

But at least one teacher has crossed a line that's supposed to separate church and state. For the past three months, he's handed out cards that, while describing what reverence, or patience or helpfulness is, also instruct students to, "love God and all that God created," "trust that God will help," "listen when God speaks to your heart," and do something "just to serve God."

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The New Humanism

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Over the course of my career, I’ve covered a number of policy failures. When the Soviet Union fell, we sent in teams of economists, oblivious to the lack of social trust that marred that society. While invading Iraq, the nation’s leaders were unprepared for the cultural complexities of the place and the psychological aftershocks of Saddam’s terror.

We had a financial regime based on the notion that bankers are rational creatures who wouldn’t do anything stupid en masse. For the past 30 years we’ve tried many different ways to restructure our educational system — trying big schools and little schools, charters and vouchers — that, for years, skirted the core issue: the relationship between a teacher and a student.

I’ve come to believe that these failures spring from a single failure: reliance on an overly simplistic view of human nature. We have a prevailing view in our society — not only in the policy world, but in many spheres — that we are divided creatures. Reason, which is trustworthy, is separate from the emotions, which are suspect. Society progresses to the extent that reason can suppress the passions.

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'You can never organize the Bahai Cause'

I’m not a historian: I’m interested mainly in the timeless task of understanding the Bahai teachings, leaving history to those able, and crystal-ball gazing to those interested. But those who don’t know their history, will repeat mistakes in understanding quite needlessly, so sometimes we need to look back at the history of an idea in the Bahai community, especially where it is a mistaken idea that keeps resurfacing. In this case I am looking at some words attributed to Abdu’l-Baha, which Oliver Scharbrodt has recently cited in his book Islam and the Baha’i Faith:

The Bahai Movement is not an organisation. You can never organise the Bahai Cause. The Bahai Movement is the spirit of this age. It is the essence of all the highest ideals of this century.

The Bahai Cause is an inclusive Movement: The teachings of all the religions and societies are found here; the Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Theosophists, Freemasons, Spiritualists, et. al., find their highest aims in this Cause. Even the Socialists and philosophers find their theories fully developed in this Movement.” (page 95)

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Urban Dictionary: Baha'i Jacking

Baha'i Jacking occurs when engaged in normal conversation, somewhere the other person brings up the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah, or something about world unity.

They will do this in everyday conversation with strangers in hopes of teaching them about their obscure, dying religion. Baha'is are taught to lay traps in conversations which give them an excuse to bring up what they really want to talk about. This may range from anything.

To protect yourself from Baha'i Jacking, just ignore them unless actually interested. If interested, make sure you actually research it.

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NZ Newspaper reports from 100 years ago

Grey River Argus, 6 November 1911:

a new religion from Persia

Abdul Baha Abbas, the mysterious Persian prophet of the Bahai religion, which has, at a moderate estimate, three million followers, is now travelling through Europe on his way to London, where he will make a short stay, and meet his English adherents.

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Evening Post, 8 March 1913


Abdul Baha, the apostle of universal peace and brotherhood, recently visited England on his way back from America to the Orient. "London has rarely sheltered a more impressive personality," says the Christian Commonwealth, "than the leader of the Bahai movement, whom three million followers call master."

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